I’ve grown to love Italy over the weeks I spent there, and it was so so hard to say goodbye (or “Arrivederci”) to all the people at the school, to the cheap but fresh gelato and pasta, to the beautiful streets and art, to speaking Italian.
One of the things I’ll remember fondly is the school- my fun and lively teacher Alessia, my lovely classmates (especially those who have been around for most if not all of my time there), the kind and helpful ladies at the reception who had tolerated my stunted Italian in the first few days, another teacher– who is also my personal medieval art guide–Andrea, and other students who I’ve gotten to know really well.
I always had tons of fun in class, which was jam packed with different activities. One of my favorites was learning about the lively gestures Italians use to express themselves, whether it’s to tell someone that the food is really good, to say that someone is crazy, or to gesture that “the party is boring, let’s leave.” I also really enjoyed learning about the colloquial expressions that are used in spoken and informal speech, and the abbreviations young people use in SMS or chats. I cracked up when my Italian friend told me that they say “Top!” to say that “they’re doing really great.” But most of all, I’ll miss playing the games at the last hour of class, whether it’s the dreaded game of Categories, the fun Taboo or Scarabeo (Italian scrabble, whoop!), or the interesting Cultural card game.
Looking back to the weeks I spent in school and reflecting on my level in Italian, I’ve definitely improved a lot- especially in listening and speaking. I remember the first day I was in Italy, when I struggled to ask for directions or to order my food in Italian. It’s crazy to realize that after 5 weeks, I was able to have conversations comfortably with the many Italians I met in Krakow for World Youth Day last week, talking about the places I’ve been in Italy, our studies, our favorite food, and many other things. On the week I spent in Krakow, I met Italians from Lombardia, from Napoli, from Parma, and from Padua (my favorite city, and my favorite group of Italians!). My favorite part was seeing their expressions when they realized that I speak Italian. They would have this mix of happy and surprised look on their faces, and then conversation would start from there. When we traded things, one of the girls from Padua gave me an Italian flag! It’s such a perfect “souvenir” to remember both Italy and also the lovely people I met in the World Youth Day.
I remember learning about Italian proverbs and idiomatic expressions in one of the classes that are related to time. One of the expressions was very similar to English: “il tempo vola.” It is basically the Italian version of the saying, “time flies.” It definitely applies for this summer- it went by so fast! It felt like I just left home for Italy yesterday. I can’t believe that classes start in about two weeks from now!
I will definitely cherish the memories I had in Siena, and I will embrace every opportunity to keep practicing and speaking Italian even when I come back to the US. I have lists of Italian movies and books I want to get my hands on, and I’m excited to go through them. But most of all, I hope that I could return to Italy in the near future!